How To Avoid Orthodontic Emergencies

When you become a patient here at Sohn Orthodontics, you’ll have the opportunity to learn a lot about your smile and what goes into straightening it. Throughout your orthodontic journey, we’ll take the time to explain to you what we’re doing and why we’re doing it! That’s because we want you to feel confident in your treatment plan, and informed enough to handle any issues that may pop up while you’re in braces or aligners. 

During this time of uncertainty, with so many orthodontic offices closed temporarily, this knowledge can help keep you calm and prepared for any unforeseen emergencies. Our practice is currently limited to only seeing patients experiencing orthodontic and dental emergencies. This includes, but is not limited to, problems like:

  • serious injury or trauma to the face, neck, mouth, teeth, or gums
  • swelling, infection, or bleeding of the gums or mouth
  • severe pain or discomfort in your teeth, mouth, face, or neck

When we’re looking at true orthodontic emergencies, the majority tend to happen unexpectedly and are often unavoidable. Fortunately, there are many ways to be more conscious of your oral health and your orthodontic appliance in your daily life. We’re here to help! Keep reading below to learn more about minimizing your risk of an emergency situation while our office is closed. 

Pay attention to what you eat

Many braces patients find that food restrictions are one of their biggest learning curves, but these guidelines exist to protect your teeth and your appliance. Crunchy and chewy foods can bend the brackets or warp the wires, and it’s easy for pieces to get stuck in your braces, too. While you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, you’ll need to avoid things like

  • chips
  • ice
  • gum
  • some raw fruits and veggies
  • popcorn
  • caramel
  • and many types of candy

We know it can be frustrating to miss out on some of your favorite foods and snacks, but this part won’t last forever! All your hard work will be more than worth it once we remove your braces and you see your beautiful new smile for the first time. 

Take care of your smile if you play sports

While most school and community sports are currently taking a breather, many athletes are keeping up with their training by kicking balls around out back or finding other ways to practice their skills. Even though it’s unlikely that you’re involved in any contact sports at the moment, it’s still important to keep your mouth protected by wearing a mouthguard!

Mouthguards are the easiest and most efficient way to prevent damage to your teeth, gums, or braces. We recommend them for low-contact sports as well as high-impact ones, since it only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces to irritate your mouth or cause tiny cuts and abrasions to your gums and cheeks. Putting a mouthguard in even if you’re only practicing at home will cushion your lips and keep them from bumping against your teeth and braces.  

Although regular mouthguards do provide basic protection, we tend to prefer an orthodontic mouthguard for our braces patients. That’s because non-orthodontic models are made with a thermal plastic that heats up in your mouth and molds to your teeth. They’re unable to change with your teeth as they shift during treatment, which can eventually end up working against the straightening process.

Orthodontic mouthguards are made from a high-grade silicone that protects brackets from any impact-related damage. This design also helps prevent painful scenarios like your lip getting caught in your braces! Because they are made to fit over your braces, they do tend to be a bit bigger than regular mouthguards. They’re just as comfortable to wear, however.

You can find plenty of over-the-counter options online these days. These models will provide you with effective protection and meet your basic needs, but if you’re looking for the assurance of a customized orthodontic mouthguard, Dr. Sohn is happy to help arrange this for you!

How To Avoid Orthodontic Emergencies

Maintain your oral hygiene routine

Dental hygiene should be a priority for all of us, but if you’re an active orthodontic patient, it’s especially important. We recommend you brush your teeth at least two times every day with fluoride toothpaste, for at least two minutes each time. For the best results, always brush after eating and before bed as well. 

If you’re wearing braces, you’ll want to pay special attention to the areas between your brackets and gums since it’s easy for food particles to get stuck there. Be careful to get in between the wires and teeth, too. Some patients find it hard to do this effectively. If that’s the case for you, use an interdental brush or waterpik to help remove plaque and food debris from any hard-to-reach areas.

Don’t forget about flossing! This is another essential part of caring for your teeth and gums, and you should ideally floss every night before bed. This can be frustrating if you’re in braces, but floss threaders and waterpiks can be useful for removing stubborn food particles and plaque. Just remember that these are supplemental tools only! They shouldn’t take the place of your regular dental hygiene routine.

Treat non-emergency issues from home

We encourage all of our patients to have a solid plan in place for any possible orthodontic emergencies. Fortunately, most minor complications can be treated from the comfort of your own home! These remedies can be very effective at lessening or relieving symptoms from the following non-emergencies.

Mouth sores

Orthodontic treatment itself doesn’t cause mouth sores, but some patients are unfortunately more susceptible to them while they’re in braces. You can get relief from these painful ulcers on your cheeks, lips, tongue, or gums by swabbing a small amount of topical anesthetic directly to the sore.

Loose or broken brackets, bands, or wires

If any part of your braces comes loose or breaks during treatment, let us know as soon as possible so we can determine what your next steps should be. If a band or bracket is broken but still attached to the wire, try to leave it alone until you speak with us. Don’t connect any elastics to it during this time.

If any piece of your braces has completely broken off, place it in a secure bag and we’ll advise you on what to do. If you’re experiencing irritation, you can cover the component that’s bothering you with a small amount of orthodontic wax for relief.

Misplaced archwire, bracket, or tie

As your treatment progresses, your teeth will begin to move towards the desired positions. This can sometimes cause the archwire connecting them to shift. If this happens, you may find it pokes out a bit near the back of your mouth, irritating your cheeks or gums. You can use the eraser end of the pencil or a clean cotton swab to gently move it back to where it’s supposed to be.

Similarly, wires or ties that have moved can often be gently manipulated back into place using a pair of clean tweezers or the eraser end of a pencil. A pinch of orthodontic wax over the parts that are poking out can help relieve the immediate discomfort, too.

Tooth pain or loosening

It’s normal for your teeth to loosen slightly during orthodontic treatment in order to accommodate the movements we’re trying to achieve. Occasionally, this can cause mild tenderness or discomfort. Salt water rinses are a tried and true remedy for relieving soreness! Simply mix one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, then swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out. A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of your jaw can offer some pain relief as well.

How To Avoid Orthodontic Emergencies

What about Invisalign patients?

Invisalign patients aren’t quite as at risk for orthodontic emergencies since the aligners aren’t constructed with wires and brackets. It’s still possible to break or lose an aligner, of course! If this happens to you, contact us as soon as possible so we can make arrangements to keep your treatment plan on track. In the meantime, continue wearing your aligners as directed by Dr. Sohn, and have a good dental hygiene routine in place. You should also be caring for your aligners by cleaning them gently and keeping them in a case when they’re not in your mouth.

The expert team at Sohn Orthodontics is here for you and your smile

If you believe you’re experiencing a true orthodontic emergency, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us immediately! Although our office is currently closed, Dr. Sohn is still available to meet your needs. Our entire team is dedicated to providing you with safe and stress-free orthodontic experience, even in these uncertain times! 

Our practice has always embraced modern technology, which means we’re set up to ensure you get the high-quality service you need via phone calls, texts, and even virtual visits. If you’re concerned about any aspect of your orthodontic treatment, get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer your questions or address any concerns. It’s our goal to keep you and your smile happy, healthy, and confident!